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  • Writer's pictureElana

squirrely resilience

The past month kind of feels like one of those “what can go wrong, will go wrong” kinds of months.

I won’t go into all the details but our flooded storage unit, containing all of our household belongings, is a good indication of the kinds of stress I’ve been dealing with lately. Plus between trying to sell a house, buy a house, and getting ready to exhibit at my first show… you know, just another walk in the park.

There are times when I feel like I’m being tested. And there have been times where I have felt like I’m at the end of my rope. But here’s an analogy that’s helping me get through this, so I thought I’d share it with you.

My parents have some bird feeders in the backyard, and they attract all kinds of beautiful birds. It’s really lovely to look out during your breakfast and see a blue jay, some cardinals, and other pretty birdies enjoying a meal.

But bird food attracts squirrels. And the squirrels in my parents’ backyard are highly evolved (like in the Secret of Nimh). And my parents have a vendetta against these squirrels.

This feud has been going on for ages. Maybe I’m exaggerating but it feels like a year ago that I was getting text messages with pictures of squirrel-proofing steps my mom had taken with the caption: “PhD: 1, squirrels: 0”. Unfortunately, as I mentioned already, these squirrels seem to be highly adaptable, not to mention extremely motivated, and they continue to get around these squirrel-proofing measures. Now that my Dad is retired, it’s not just my mom the PhD, but also my dad (the MD) who is fighting with the squirrels. There is some highly educated squirrel-proofing strategy going on here. And every time they get one step ahead of those pesky little rodents, those squirrels figure it out and catch back up. Squirrel-proof feeder? They figured it out. Squirrel-proofing measures taken using plastic serving trays as deterrents? That’s not stopping them. Special squirrel-proof food with chili mixed in so the squirrels won’t like it? Puh-lease.

Mitzi is in on it too. She already had an irritation with squirrels since, being on a leash whenever she’s on a walk, she can never run after and catch them… and when she’s finally off her leash they run up trees and, despite her best efforts to climb after them, she can’t catch them. But her battle with squirrels has definitely escalated. I think she has picked up on the irritation that my parents have toward the squirrels and is now a slightly psychotic dog when she sits at one of her spots in front of the window and a squirrel dares to knock the top off of a feeder and crawl inside. If I didn’t bribe her with cookies, she would sit outside, guarding that bird-feeder and shivering from the cold, forever. And she’s started growling into the dark at the bunnies that come at night too… how is a dog to know which rodents are good and which ones are bad?

Mitzi hard at work scaring away the squirrels on a freezing cold day

Anyways, despite my parents’ and Mitzi’s best efforts, the squirrels keep on coming, and keep on figuring out how to beat the next obstacle set before them. The moral of my story is that the squirrels just keep on trying. Whether we want them around or not, whether they are scaring away the pretty birdies, and whether they’re torturing my dog, their resilience and determination are admirable.

So as I continue to struggle through the obstacles placed before me, I will keep thinking about these pesky little critters, and how they just won’t give up no matter how hard we try to make it for them to succeed. Good for you, squirrels. Good for you.

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